Smith County Commissioners approve drone testing in county

An example of the drone that could help first responders.
An example of the drone that could help first responders.(Source: Phirst Technologies)
Published: Nov. 13, 2018 at 5:11 PM CST
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SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County first responders are one step closer to receiving help from drones.

The Smith County Commissioners Court approved an agreement to allow Phirst Technologies to conduct testing of its automated drone first response system.

Last month, the Tyler City Council approved a similar agreement which allowed for the installation of a temporary drone port at fire station nine.

Now a second port will be installed at the Smith County Emergency Operations Center.

“It also provides great logistical partnership with our EOC operations there on the spur because that’s where we are doing emergency operations,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “Our folks can see what’s going on, can participate in feedback and can receive some of that information to help move forward together in a great partnership.”

The goal of the program is for the drone to be the first “eyes" on the scene of a fire or other emergency situation.

“To have it at […] the Emergency Operations Center is also a very logical tie-in, because if we have an emergency what better place to have it and it’s also a diverse location,” Phil Burks with Phirst Technologies said.

While the program is in its beginning stages, if everything goes as expected, the program expects to have about 8 drones stationed in Smith County.

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